Are you cramping all the time?
I’m sure all of us have experienced muscle cramps at some point in our lifetime.
A muscle cramp is an involuntary and intense contraction of a muscle or group of muscles. Although generally harmless, muscle cramps can be uncomfortable, painful and even momentarily disabling. Cramps are usually exacerbated when the nervous system is stressed.
So, what causes a muscle to cramp?
The main reasons your muscle may cramp is usually dehydration, muscle strain (overuse) or merely holding a sustained position for a prolonged period of time.
Cramping can often be exacerbated by long periods of physical activity or manual labour in hot weather.
As I mentioned earlier, muscle cramps are generally harmless and often very temporary, however if you are prone to muscle cramps on a regular basis, we need to look further as there may be some other underlying causes that need to be addressed.
Other possible causes of muscle cramps may include:
- Mineral depletion – inadequate supply of minerals such as magnesium or potassium are common causes of muscle cramps. Increased consumption of diuretics (such as coffee, black tea and some medications) can also have an effect on muscle cramping as they encourage the body to eliminate excess water, causing mineral imbalances in the body.
- Supplementary medical conditions – medical conditions such as diabetes, liver and thyroid conditions increase the risk of muscle cramping. Other causes of chronic muscle cramps can include motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s, MS, venous disease, high blood pressure. In such cases, muscle cramps and muscle spasms must be distinguished.
- Environmental causes – toxins such as drugs, pesticides, insect bites.
- Interruption to nerve communication to the muscles involved – all muscles in your body are innervated by nerves that branch off from your spinal cord. If your spine isn’t functioning as well as it is meant to, or if you have a history of a spinal injury, those nerves can be compromised, resulting in a higher likelihood of cramping.
How to I prevent muscle cramps?
- Be sufficiently hydrated! Ensure that you are drinking plenty of water every day. Aim to drink more water on warm days, when you are participating in sport or doing exercise, or of you spend a lot of the day working outside. The increase in water helps your muscles contract and relax.
- Stretching – regular stretching has so many benefits, one being that it decreases likelihood for cramping. During activity, muscles spend a lot of time in a flexed, or shortened position. Without adequate stretching, these muscles may not fully relax and lengthen to their original state, leaving you more likely to experience cramping.
- Balanced diet – including a wide range of vegetables, fruits and proteins in your diet lowers the incidence of muscle cramps as it provides the body with many vitamins and minerals needed to function optimally.
- Supplementation – incorporating the right amount of minerals such as magnesium into our diet can be hard.
At Sims & Finn we specifically stock Metagenics Fibroplex MagActive.
This supplement has a unique blend of ingredients such as Magnesium, Vitamin B, Glutamine and Taurine. When taken regularly it may be beneficial to relieve muscular hypertonicity and cramps, increase energy levels, assist with recovery post workout, assist with reducing insomnia & restless leg syndrome, relieve constipation, help manage headaches & migraines.
Metagenics products’ are a practitioner only range of nutritional supplements and complementary medicines which are intended to be recommended and/or dispensed by a Qualified Healthcare Professional.
Only patients who have completed a consultation with our Qualified Healthcare Professionals may have access to purchase Metagenics Clinical products.
Our chiropractors are able to advise you on the range of high quality supplements we stock and answer any questions on their suitability and benefits.
If you would like to learn about the benefits of magnesium supplementation, click here.
To book an appointment, either go to our website or call one of the members of our friendly staff.
Sims & Finn Chiropractic
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- Bilbey DL, Prabhakaran VM. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Can Fam Physician 1996;42:1348\u201351. [PubMed]
- Schwellnus MP, Nicol J, Laubscher R, et al. Serum electrolyte concentrations and hydration status are not associated with exercise associated muscle cramping (EAMC) in distance runners. Br J Sports Med 2004;38:488\u201392. [PubMed]
- Young GL, Jewell D. Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2002:CD000121. [PubMed]
- Garrison SR, Allan GM, Sekhon RK, et al. Magnesium for skeletal muscle cramps. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012;9:CD009402. [PubMed]